What is the age of consent?
The age of consent is the age in which a person can legally agree to any sexual activity ranging from kissing and fondling to full sexual intercourse.
From 1890 until May 2008, the age of consent was 14 for all non-exploitive sexual activity. To help protect youth from sexual predators and to fight child sexual exploitation, the Government of Canada passed legislation in 2008 increasing the age of consent. With changes to the Criminal Code, the age of consent is 16 for all non-exploitive sexual activity.
Non-exploitive sexual activity is defined as sexual activity that does not include prostitution or pornography. Additionally, a 16 or 17 year old cannot consent to any sexual activity if:
- Their sexual partner is in a position of trust or authority towards them, such as a coach or teacher
- The young person is dependent on their sexual partner, such as for care or support
- The relationship between the young person and their sexual partner is exploitive
The following factors may be taken into account when determining if the relationship is exploitive:
- The young person’s age
- How the relationship developed (internet, secretly, etc.)
- The age difference between the young person and their partner
- Whether the older partner may have controlled or influenced the young person
Close in Age Exceptions
There are exceptions to the age of consent for sexual relationships for people who are close in age. This means that a 14-year-old can consent to sexual activity with someone who is less than five years older than them as long as there is no relationship of authority, trust or dependency. A person aged 12 or 13 can legally consent to sexual activity with another person who is less than two years older than them as long as there is no relationship of authority, trust or dependency.